I hardly ever need a reason to try a new restaurant. Usually if it's new, commutable, and the food is interesting and affordable enough, I'm there. But when I heard that Gawad Kalinga's Center for Social Innovation (CSI) had put up a café/social enterprise that featured homegrown organic fare, I knew this would be a totally different experience.
According to restaurant manager Bea Gomez, "The cafe was set up as a two-fold platform - to serve as a social enterprise that bridges the Enchanted Farm through its food and beverage, and to create a market/point of sales for existing social enterprises. In the cafe, not only do we sell products of social enterprises but also serve novel food products made only in the Enchanted Farm." She adds, "The agriculture-based GK Village University is the point of production of featured items in the café, from its raw ingredients to off the rack products."
So my friend Sanndra and I stopped by during their soft opening one lazy Saturday afternoon about a month ago. The space has this zen yet welcoming vibe with its avocado walls, wooden furniture, and coffee bean centerpieces. It could be a great hangout for college or grad school students who need a nice place to study where they aren't required to buy expensive coffee.
Back then, we just ordered their pan de sal sandwiches. For P30, you get three pieces of pan de sal with either red egg, greens, and tomatoes, or kesong puti, greens, and tomatoes. We got both and they're pretty good deals for the price you pay. Because we didn't get to try much, I decided to go back another time.
It turns out the café is the venue for CSI's regular Tuesday meetings, where they have local social entrepreneurs talk about their businesses and inspire others to start their own. So I ventured back there again with Sanndra and my boyfriend, JPaul, last Tuesday night. The place was packed with not just Pinoys, but people of different nationalities too, conjuring up images of United Colors of Benetton ads.
For starters, we ordered the red egg salad because the French dude behind the counter recommended it (I later on found out the red eggs were from his social enterprise). The ingredients were simple – greens, tomatoes, red egg, kesong puti – but they were so fresh and pretty, making it a refreshing appetizer. The vinaigrette was nice and tangy, too. Pretty good deal for P65.
The chicken pesto pasta (P150) was also good; the basil seemed fresh, too. I was just disappointed that I got one sad cube of kesong puti while Sanndra got four (yes, I counted). There were only four bits of chicken, too, but I chalked that up to the deluge of people ordering that night.
JPaul loved the Enchanted burger (P100), which came with a side of kamote fries with dip and a small salad. The serving size was pretty decent for the price, too.
We washed all that down with the Enchantea, which was delightful. It was sweet with just the right punch of citrus sour. I loved that the drinks came in what appear to be mayonnaise bottles.
To cap it off, we got their homemade ice cream (P10 – yes, you read that right), which came in coffee and chocolate with chili flavors. You'd think for the price, you'd only get a scoop, but they give you a whole cup. The consistency is like that ever-faithful dirty ice cream of your childhood, but with interesting flavors. JPaul and I loved the coffee ice cream – there were actual grounds that gave a strong, authentic coffee flavor. The chili takes a few bites for you to feel the heat, but it isn't overpowering – just right, if you ask me.
Although the menu is limited for now and some aspects of the dishes could use some improvement, I've gotta give props to the overall concept. Bea says, "Items in the menu come from two major sources - the Enchanted Farm in Angat Bulacan, which provides most of the fresh produce and special burger patties in the menu; and existing social enterprises such as Gourmet Keso, Golden Egg, Hamlet and Happy Green, who provide us with both kitchen use items and off the rack items. All items are locally produced and packaged, naturally grown and delicious."
Overall, I recommend Enchanted Farm Café for a Saturday afternoon hanging out with friends – you get affordable, satisfying meals, and get to support GK communities and local enterprises, too.
The café is located at Unit 2-A, #463 Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.
photos courtesy of JPaul Marasigan and Sanndra Orosa